Aw, crap, this was last year
Stanford is offering a free online course by computer scientist/law professor Jonathan Mayer that surveys the baroque, interleaved world of US surveillance law through the Coursera MOOC platform. Read the rest
The AP description says, "Surveillance video shows a man allegedly driving his pickup truck into the lobby of an Oklahoma hotel." And the employees in the lobby allegedly didn't like it when they were almost murdered. Read the rest
A cop who convinced a judge to let him take photos of a 17-year-old boy's erect penis has killed himself after being accused of having an "inappropriate relationship" with another underage teen.
David Edward Abbott, a member of a Crimes Against Children taskforce, obtained a warrant to "inject a young boy with a drug that would cause an erection" after the teen sent a dick pic to his 15-year-old girlfriend. The ostensible plan: to match one pic to the other to prove they were the same penis.
Amid a public outcry, the Manassas City police eventually decided against doing that. The 17-year-old boy got a year of probation for sexting his teen girlfriend… The authorities went to arrest Abbott, 39, on Tuesday. [...] Abbott had an inappropriate relationship with a boy, now 13, police alleged. He was accused of soliciting sexual acts on the phone, via text messages and social media. Abbott was also accused of having an "inappropriate relationship with a second male victim" affiliated with the Prince William County hockey league.
If you're wondering whether Manassas is a safe environment for children, it's best you know that the Manassas City Police Department is standing by their man, to whom they remain "grateful."
Read the rest
This is a tragic and sad day for the Abbott family, the juvenile victims and their families, the Manassas City Police Department, and our community. In spite of these recent developments regarding the serious allegations against him, we are grateful for the contributions Det. Abbott made during his time with Manassas City Police, to include the prosecution and conviction of hundreds of criminals.
The dandelion bloom, with parachute-like seeds, that are about to disperse, was captured in a crystal clear dandelion paperweight. The glass-like half globe, allows the dandelion seed head to be viewed from all sides. Each dandelion seed puff, also known as a dandelion clock, is hand-picked. Due to the nature of the product, each paperweight is unique, with no two being identical, making it a very special gift.
Our friend Joshua Foer, memory champion and author of the fantastic book "Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything," shows how he stores incredible amounts of useful (and useless) information in the memory palace in his head.
Editor's note: So here's a weird thing. After telling Twitter that Offworld needed more articles on ability and accessibility, we received this author's enthusiastic pitch and encouraged him to write the following piece. After publishing, it was brought to our attention that the author has been involved in some unacceptable behavior on social media, sending harassing Tweets to women in our industry (including our contributors) and signal-boosts people who have attacked us. If we'd known about this, we would not have chosen to work with this author. We've edited out links to content from venues associated with harassment, but we've elected not to remove the piece as we think it's full of useful insight.
Truly, though, we live in a weird world if Gamergaters are bragging about having sneaked a constructive and considered article on colorblindness onto our feminist website.
We're sorry to anyone who was upset by seeing us publish this author. Given that Gamergaters have physically followed me to my speaking engagements and continue to harangue and overshadow my entire professional life for over a year, I'm sure you can understand I sympathize with your offense. Forgive me. -- Leigh
Centralia, PA, has a tourist problem thanks to its long-burning underground coal fire and ghost town status. The locals that remain are tired of being told their beloved, doomed home is the "real-life Silent Hill," that being a gateway to hell replete with deformed nurses with legs for heads, pyramid-headed demons, manifestations of scarred male psyches, etc.
Centralians themselves couldn’t be less happy about Silent Hill, since the brief association the film made between Silent Hill and Centralia is now one of the better-known things about the town. Like, what if everyone knew the name of your home town, but only because Frank Booth in Blue Velvet mentioned that he once went to the toilet there. Inevitably, those who visit Centralia for its relevance to Silent Hill leave disappointed. Every article that posits the town as “the real Silent Hill” — or as “The Actual Town from Hell”, “Hell on Earth”, “A Ghost Town… On Fire”, or as one of the “10 Scariest Places on Earth” — includes a comment section with at least one reality check. “It is NOT a scary place at all.” “I’m afraid if you want scary, find an abandoned insane asylum, because Centralia is not very scary at all.” “It’s very peaceful actually.”
The irony is that in the Silent Hill trilogy, it's just a mysterious fog. The creepy coal fire angle was grafted onto the mythos for the movie, which no-one really cares about.
P.S. The next "big" town over from Centralia is named "Shamokin," a much better name for a municipality sat atop a disappointingly milquetoast chasm to hell. Read the rest
Researchers are warning that ads could play coded sounds outside the range of human hearing to secretly communicate with other gadgets within earshot.
The technique, which several companies are reportedly working on, would allow marketers to associate devices with one another and paint a privacy-cracking picture of the owner's interests and behaviors.
Dan Goodin reports that cross-device tracking is already in use:
Cross-device tracking raises important privacy concerns, the Center for Democracy and Technology wrote in recently filed comments to the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC has scheduled a workshop on Monday to discuss the technology. Often, people use as many as five connected devices throughout a given day—a phone, computer, tablet, wearable health device, and an RFID-enabled access fob. Until now, there hasn't been an easy way to track activity on one and tie it to another.
"As a person goes about her business, her activity on each device generates different data streams about her preferences and behavior that are siloed in these devices and services that mediate them," CDT officials wrote. "Cross-device tracking allows marketers to combine these streams by linking them to the same individual, enhancing the granularity of what they know about that person."
The trick hasn't been seen in the wild, but all the pieces are in place: we all know our smartphones and laptops might end up under someone else's control, but did you know television sets now default to collecting and sending data on what you watch? [via The New Aesthetic] Read the rest
Here's how it works: Just send us a tweet or text (use the text field in the order form) We’ll carefully translate it into cuneiform We'll stamp it on an actual clay tablet and mail it to you. Favorite jokes? Amazing pickup lines? Your 2-star review of last summer's blockbuster? KEEP IT FOREVER.
$20 a go. They should at least insist on it having been publicly posted! [via JWZ]
I thought Robert Crumb's unabridged graphic novel of the Book of Genesis was a herculean effort, but cartoonist R. Sikoryak has tackled an even more arduous task: incorporating the complete, unabridged iTune's user agreement into a graphic novel. Sikoryak is very good at drawing comics in the style of other cartoonists, and he uses this skill here to great effect. Take a gander:
Page 48 (after Chester Gould)
Page 46 (after Hergé)
Page 42 (after Otto Mesmer)
Page 41 (after Rube Goldberg)
Unbelievable! You can buy hardcopies here: THE UNABRIDGED GRAPHIC ADAPTATION: ITUNES TERMS AND CONDITIONS, PART A & PART B | THE UNABRIDGED GRAPHIC ADAPTATION: ITUNES TERMS AND CONDITIONS, PART C & PART D Read the rest
The EPA, the California Air Resources Board and Environment Canada have detected more fraudulent firmware in VW products; this time in 2014-2016 cars from the super-profitable Audii and Porsche lines. Read the rest
Robots have a hard time making their way across uneven, unstable terrain. Read the rest
The DC Appeals Court has just ruled against Amir Meshal, a US citizen who was arrested in Kenya by a joint US-Kenyan-Ethiopian law enforcement operation, held for months, tortured with FBI agents present and threatened with his secret murder, then released without any charges. Read the rest